Kyle Weber is a man of many titles: UTM alumnus, tattoo artist, and bald man enthusiast. Weber wrote and self-published The Book of Bald: Going Bald like a Man in print and e-book in October of 2018. He began losing his hair at 19-years-old and opted to shave it all off because, “the #1 rule for a guy losing his hair is, being bald looks better than going bald. [A bald man] has a Harley-Davidson-owning, punk rocker [look], but [a balding man] can’t make the comb over look work at all.”
Although Weber admits that he is not “someone who believes in traditional gender roles,” he highlights the problems with traditional gender roles for men by saying, “body positivity forgot about us. A lot of people don’t look at someone who’s bald and see that as something that could be the source of insecurity or mental trauma. It sucks, [it’s] such an emotional mountain to climb especially if you’re young and in university.”
To overcome his reservation with losing his hair, Weber began focusing on the other markers of his identity.
“When I lost my hair, I was getting more attention from people because of my ability to tattoo [which was] something people value more than hair,” Weber says. “People aren’t going to judge you on your hair unless you make your whole identity about your hair.”
Weber also often used his work as a tattoo artist as a source of inspiration for the creative non-fiction stories he produced in the professional writing courses he took at UTM. Weber’s decision to chronicle his advice for balding men in a novel was heavily-influenced by his time in the program. He initially took WRI203: Expressive Writing to fulfil the Social Science requirement for the U of T degree. However, he quickly gained an appreciation for the program. The teaching style of professors such as Guy Allen and Robert Price, which Weber describes as “storytelling rather than writing,” encouraged him to pursue a minor in the program in addition to his Art and Art History major. He goes on to say that the class “ignited a love for story-telling” which became a “gateway drug to writing.”
“Robert Price was a huge professor. [He was] the one who showed me that I could write in my own style [and he was] very appreciative of having a lot of bite in your writing and your own style,” states Weber.
During his time at UTM, Weber also had work published in the Professional Writing and Communication department’s annual journal, Mindwaves. Influenced by the positive feedback he got in the program, Weber “set a goal to write a book post grad” and wanted to “write about something he experienced.”
Although, since Weber “fell out of tattooing and did not have the infrastructure of the program and editing group,” the idea for the book did not come up until a few years after grad. Weber realized that there was a demand for his book when, “Men would always ask me about going bald. When did it happen for you? How can you possibly be as confident as you are when you’re as young as you are and you’re bald?”
For the men who seek his advice on how to remain confident when losing their hair, Weber provides them honest advice through forums on his website. Weber describes himself as a “bald Sherpa.” He admits that he receives “dense emails of rants [from men afraid of] being bald. [They] notice this or that [and tell him] ‘I don’t have a girlfriend so I need to find someone to marry right now!’”
According to his website, Weber’s book helps readers through “The 7 Stages of Hair loss,” symptom, denial, resistance, defeat, acceptance, adaption, and thrive, while also teaching the audience “about bald spots, side, sweeps, and strategic hat usage…how to put up a fight, when to call it quits, and how balding can be the best thing to happen to you.”
“Be confident with going bald, and try to avoid hiding your hair loss [and] showing that you’re ashamed of it. If you’re projecting that you’re ashamed of it that will come across poorly to other people,” Weber encourages. “Losing your hair is no different from anything else involving the aging process, like waking up one day and realizing you have a new wrinkle in your forehead, it’s something for the most part that’s out of your control.”
In terms of getting the book published, Weber simply says, “publishing if you’re going to go the self-publishing route is no problem.” The challenging part of creating The Book of Bald was the “grueling nature of the editing process.”
“It’s not hard to put a lot of words down on the page, it’s hard to put good words down on the page,” Weber says.
Weber also admits to feeling doubts while editing. He recalls getting “half-way through the book and thinking I’m spending hundreds of hours on this, I’m not going to get rich off this, why am I even doing this?” Despite the doubts and the challenges, Weber explains “selling the book is an adventure in itself.”